Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Gongfarmers on Sea-Devil's Island

Inspired by this podcast - Christian B. has an entertaining and edifying and justice-aware view of the ways that business and corruption drive our lives.

So: the Dungeon Crawl Classics rulebook has a 0-level starting occupation that is a pretty interesting in that it's literally the shittiest job you ever heard of: Gongfarmer. What is a gongfarmer? well, it's someone who empties chamberpots and collects shit and piss for other things. I think historically speaking it was tanneries that used piss and shit in an economical way. Turning shit and piss into money is a special kind of alchemy, I guess. So - the job sucks, but within the framework of DCC you leave it (assuming you survive your first adventure) and become an adventurer. But like, a REAL adventurer who already knows how to muck around in the shit-soaked underground and bring out a living.

Thereafter, all your occupational rolls - anything involving the collection of shit and piss and underground exploration and survival - are at d20 rather than the lowly d10 that an unskilled check would involve. Pretty broad, because there's a lot of shit and piss in the world, and a lot of terrible places to fuck around in.

Brings me back to the aforementioned podcast - so in the mid 1800's in the US - around the world, really - it was discovered that nitrogen found in guano of birds (and later bats) could be reliably transformed into fertilizer. I think you would be surprised at what a big deal this is, and what having reliable crop fertilizer does for a population of humans. It's pretty transformative.

And so, inevitably, capitalists, indutrialists, colonialists, and all the other worst sorts of entrepreneurs seized upon the notion of finding sea-bird infested islands and stripping them bare of everything. Well, not everything, but all the birdshit which was the important part.

This really happened, and as I drove in a mindless lull, listening to this young woman relate the tale of desperate men on a blazing hot, shit-soaked island in the Pacific, struggling against weather and famine and oppression and rats, I got a sense of what a REAL Gongfarmer's Adventure would look like - something like trying to take on The Isle of Dread (X1) but instead of a sword all you have is a trowel at first and maybe some Kuo-Toa, and Cthulhu rising out of the cyclopean depths at the end...

Anyways, it's a decent podcast and Busted Business Bureau is totally worth a subscribe.


1. Shit-and-piss-proof boots

2. Canary in a cage (for deadly gas detection)

3. Umbrella/Umbrella hat for staving off the evil sun's hateful rays

4. UV50 protection sunscreen/paste/mud

5. Rusty pick (d6) - may cause disease on a critical

6. Rusty shovel (d8) - see 5 above

7. Guano-bag

8. Rat-poison pellets

9. Mermaid-resistant earplugs

10. Thick-soled leather knobbly-lugged climbing shoes

11. A rope with a lot of knots tied in it

12. Makeshift crampons

13. Hardtack/biscuits in a water-and-shit proof container

14. The nightshift has non-flame electric torches because the gas is explosive

15. Natural immunity or resistance to several terrible illnesses



Terrible "employers" (really slavers) just begging for an ass-whooping

Deep-Ones/Kuo-Toa cultists lurking around constantly

Mermaids - I mean what horned-up, broke-ass, desperate shit-miner wouldn't be tempted by mermaid song?

Pan-Lung water dragons, tired of eating seabirds and seals

Maybe a shit-encrusted temple underneath a couple of tons of/layers of rock-hard guano

Deep-One gold artifacts here and there (but the tyrannical slavers who run the place want it for themselves)

A well-guarded and ugly (but fast and seaworthy) ship to get away in when the guano hits the fan

Finally, and most-dreadfully, the imminent arrival of Dagon/Hydra/Evil Neptune/Nodens/Cthulhu telegraphed by weird astronomical and weather events, and freaked-out birds and rats

Thursday, July 20, 2023

The Long Dark Teatime of the Blog

Hey don't worry, internet pals! I'm still alive. What's good with you? That's great! What's good with me?  Uhh, we're playing a pretty fun extended "campaign" of 5e/DCC/Holmes/PbtA/ItO - pretty regular, rulesets vary but the setting and vibe is pretty much always the same. "Thrend" is a mixed-genre thing with Mutants and Magick and Weird Technology and Feudal Fantasy Americana/Oz/Tolkienisms. Mostly an excuse for us to get together and have pizza and beer every few weeks and laugh hilariously. I've been mulling over really putting the screws to my players and making them count arrows and torches and encumbrance etc. but uhhhhhhh I don't know. I sort of like the vibe we have. Think: Wizard of Oz crossed with Shadowrun and Star Frontiers. Picaresque, characters totally disposable but hilariously memorable mostly.

Sort of stole this, sorry OP, but it's close

The order of play is:

1) Sit down, catch up, order pizza, drink first beer.

2) Roll on my stolen-from-Oriental Adventures 1e monthly and weekly and daily events chart.

3) Interpret each roll in the context of the friend chat - interestingly my players are totally down with even half-hearted abortive jokes being used as canonical truths in the game narrative. No joke is safe from becoming interpreted into the campaign world.

4) Roll for carousing. My one player whose name rhymes with "Will" has a 3rd level Holmes human magic-user with an 18 charisma so his reaction roll is pretty disruptive to my plans and he's leaving markers and IOUs all over town. But luckily the carousing results prompt all sorts of events and hilarity.

This is how every game starts for the group, basically.
5) Do we make it to the dungeon? Yes - we are playing Zach H.'s refit of the Holmes starter dungeon, in preparation for running "Things Better Left Alone" which is Holmes' actual home dungeon and appears partly in the Boinger and Zereth novels - get thee hie to find if ye've not done

6) Use loose Holmesian rules to play, loose Moldvay order of combat/explore (including reaction rolls always), DCC vibes to vibe it, and Dungeon-World/PbtA/Perilous Wilds when adjudication needs, uhh, adjudicating

Example: last week, an incursion of haughty winged elfin refugees from the Sky Islands onto Portowne's southern farmlands and the deaths of a few innocent plebs required intervention. Carousing had already happened, mysterious amounts of money done spent, and obligations and complications discussed. The party, with new orc and goblin bar-back hirelings in tow, falsified the deed to the cliffside above the ocean on the dungeon and the elfs were too dumb/proud/irritating to check, so off the whole tribe went in a flash. I guess they will contend with the pirates, Dagonites, and Amazonians that are in the vicinity already, so that's fun. Then they went into the caves, murdered some pirates, bullied some Dagonites (who all hit the road back to the reef and probably tattled). The party DID NOT make it into the Dagonite mini-ziggurat, but they DID fight some weresharks and the fighter(paladin?) of G.I. Jesus contracted a suspicious fever, so they hot-footed it back to town and were quested by the Temple of The Red Mother's abbot to root out and destroy the Dagonites in the caves. They were given an Amazonian Spear +1 to put a dent in the weresharks, and I guess we needn't rely on the only magic weapon (a +1 dagger) they have to get much further into the dungeon.

So the Aerth is on fire, the current architects and administrators of the land are rabid hateful gibbons, upheavals everywhere, and superstition and barbarity are the order of the day. High technology is ubiquitous - almost magickal! And magick is making a resurgence. Androgyne elfs and robots stalk the land. 

Wait, is this my campaign, or is it the Waking World? The answer is: YES!

Luckily, I am playing things I don't share too much or often - you Dear Reader might be amused by the hilarity of my group. I beat Tears of the Kingdom last month which was practically a religious experience.

Wintermute is going to take my job and kick my shit in for all those LogicBomb 3.0s back in '87

Reading when I am able. Tearing apart/putting back together guitars and making weird instruments often. Collecting the tools I will need when Artificial Intelligences (blast them!) actually do take my job. Printing and painting the occasional mini - Cawdor warband, greenskin army, and a Rogue-Trader era Nurgle Genestealer Cult are on the bench but there is literally no pressure to ever finish those. I also have an orky Blood Bowl team always in progress - last week I printed out some bases and stripped some BB2e models I found for a steal.

Things are okay, but blogging ain't a priority at the moment. I'm still here tho!

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